Last week, we recognized World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Initiated in 1992, this important day is now acknowledged in more than 150 countries.
Mental health is impacted in myriad ways, from childhood through adulthood. Most recently, educational professionals and medical professionals alike have focused on the lasting impacts that trauma has on an individual throughout his/her development.
The statistics that have surfaced out of this research are startling, to say the least. At least 5 million children experience trauma each year; that is 1 out of every 4 students in the classroom. What defines trauma, however, may come as even more of a surprise: in addition to accidents and illness, traumatic experiences can arise out of living in poverty.
With an estimated 20% of all children in the United States living in poverty, the outgrowth of this could be profound. Worse, the effects of trauma are deep and lasting: it has been directly correlated to lower GPAs, decreased reading ability, attention/memory/cognition challenges and increased behavior problems.
In response, schools, child-care facilities and even community support organizations are coming together to bring informed teaching methods into these settings. Some of these tactics include:
- Establishing safety
- Expressing feelings and coping
- Behavior management
- Connecting to social supports
With 70% of mental disorders onset prior to the age of 25, the childhood and adolescent years are a critical window in which mental health can be addressed, and overall mental wellness can be promoted.
*Special thanks to Dr. Von Hof for her invaluable and insightful contributions to this blog!*